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Friday, December 11, 2015

After the Silence

Graduation is over. The reception hall has been swept clean, the trash has been taken out, and the extra food given away. Dorm keys turned in, goodbyes said, cards exchanged. The final tests have been taken and the exercise logs turned in for the last time. Now the place is still, waiting for a new beginning.

It happens twice a year, this beginning time. The week before is a flurry of busyness, phone calls, packages, early arrivals, late night airport runs. Then it is registration morning and as they walk in the door, I smile and greet them by name even before they say hello. I know who they are. I've memorized their faces, their names, the things about them that make them unique. I'm excited because we've worked so hard together to reach this point, to make this a possibility, and now God has led them here.

They have no idea what the next four months carry for them. I have an inkling, having seen similar groups come through before, but I know too that this group will grow in heart and soul in a special way that no other group has grown before. They will laugh, they will fight, they will feel overwhelmed, they will cry, they will pray. They will meld into a team of leaders that only God can create out of such individual people.

As the semester progresses, they will sense their need of God in a deeper way than before. Unlike required tests and homework, they will voluntarily seek God through community prayer as they ask for healing for themselves and for those they serve. This community will help them encourage each other when struggling and shape each other to be servant leaders.

The semester begins with a bang while the end hurries in quietly. Before we have time to fully realize what it means that it is all over, it will be. Once the hubbub has died down, the silence will come in.

This time, the ending is symbolic for my journey also. The next class that arrives will know who I am but I won't be there to greet them. I will have left for my own adventure, to learn how to be part of a team with other leaders, and to learn how to pray to God for healing for others and myself.

After the silence comes a new beginning. For them. For me.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Pray for Those Who Persecute You (Matthew 5:44)

Been listening to Amy Grant's My Grown-Up Christmas List on repeat all day. Yesterday there was a mass shooting in Southern California. On the other side of the world, children ages 8-13 were writing out their Christmas wishes. No more war. I can go home again. Everyone would love each other. I want to be happy and not sad anymore. No one to die anymore. Peace. These children were living in a country not their own, longing for the war to be over so they could resume a normal life. I read their notes and I cried. I cried hard because children should never have to endure what they went through. They deserve innocence and happiness. Not this. Never.

I feel so helpless. Then I wonder how God must feel. If I can have such empathy, as a broken human being, imagine how our all-powerful Creator Father must ache as He sees the pain. This world is a very difficult place to live in. God cannot always intervene because Satan still controls this world and humans have free will to follow whom they choose. People die and children cry.

These are not easy situations to package up with a pretty bow of a cliche. I must wrestle with the horror of sin and the beauty of grace. I will cry but even my tears cannot compare to the tears of those who must experience the terrors. God keeps each of those tears in a bottle and He remembers.

I realized the other day that the greatest revenge we can exact on our most hated enemy is for them to know Jesus. Ironic, I know, but when they meet Jesus and accept His salvation and understand the sacrifice He offered for their freedom, I believe the depth of their sin will bring deep conviction. Then, like Paul, they will be the greatest missionaries for God this world has even known. So tonight, as I pray for those who suffer, I must ask the Holy Spirit to pray what I cannot naturally pray myself. Forgiveness for those who know not what they do, that they may know the One who does yet still extends mercy to all.

One day, hopefully soon, we will have that world Amy sings of. Where right will always win.